All my writing is about girls. More girls come to therapy. So what is going on with our boys these days? From dating to gun violence we seem to be at a loss.
I met a new patient who is a 17 yo boy from the ‘burbs. He was cute in that awkward kind of way, lanky and unsure of himself, athletic. His parents were in shock that he was struggling with such strong emotions as feeling “empty” and wanting to jump off a building. Boys’ depression can look very different than girls’. They are more apt to violence, we know. And sudden, not like that creeping worry, guilt and regret that girls have. But impulsive and externally focused. So one bad mood can cause massive drama and radical behavior. Boys’ depression is anger, irritability and sullenness. It is not “I want to die” it’s “I want to take you down with me.” It’s not “I’m sad and upset” it’s “leave me alone.” We must do something about this public health crisis. This isolation of boys.
- One guideline is to impart emotional management skills. Boys in particular need to learn how to manage stress and the negative emotions—anger, fear, frustration, sadness, loneliness, doubt—because they are at risk for acting them out, according to one source.
New York Magazine says,
Being a real man isn’t something “internal,” but something performed — for other men. Masculinity is “homosocial” — meaning it’s other men who judge whether we’re doing it right. We want to be a “man’s man,” not a “ladies’ man.” A “man among men.”
The article says this model is inverted. That men need to learn how to internalize being right not might.
The NY Times says,
What do these shootings have in common? Guns, yes. But also, boys. Girls aren’t pulling the triggers. It’s boys. It’s almost always boys.
America’s boys are broken. And it’s killing us.
The pundits say boys are trapped in an outmoded model of masculinity. I don’t know. Let’s work on identifying boys’ depression and treatment, sooner, better and with more resources.
When looking for a male partner girls should keep in mind the following BASIC minimum requirements and not lower the bar further.
- No history of domestic violence
- Raised in a loving family where cooperation is valued
- Treats women with respect and dignity always
- Able to be reliable for a phone call, date, meeting or time commitment
- Does not resort to “macho” behavior at the flick of a switch
If you are constantly trying, like some of my girl patients, to mold your guy into a compassionate human and he is consistently falling short, maybe it’s time to move on. You can do better. And so can he.
Let’s demand more for our boys, for the times they are a’ changing.